Country artists have the ear of American gun culture. They need to speak up. – Chicago Tribune

Country music aspires to tell the story of real life in America, but American life continues to feel unreal.

On Monday morning, our nation awoke to news that more than 50 country music fans were killed when a gunman opened fire at a concert in Las Vegas while Jason Aldean sang “When She Says Baby.” It was the deadliest mass shooting in American history. For now. Time and again, we’ve seen our lawmakers respond to these exceedingly lethal events with thoughts, prayers and little action — which means right now would be a fine time for Nashville’s biggest stars to speak up on behalf of the American lives they’re singing about.

If you think that country music doesn’t have any influence over American gun culture, check out the website of NRA Country, an extension of the National Rifle Association that endeavors to strengthen the gun lobby through partnerships with the country music industry. The banner across the top of the site encourages visitors to “celebrate the lifestyle,” and the initiative’s “featured artists” include Lee Brice, Craig Campbell, Luke Combs, Easton Corbin, Florida Georgia Line, LOCASH, Justin Moore, Jon Pardi, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice, Granger Smith, Sunny Sweeney, Aaron Watson, Gretchen Wilson and others. In 2010, an NRA official said that the goal of NRA Country was to present the “softer side” of the gun lobby.

Many of the artists affiliated with NRA Country have vented their sadness over the Las Vegas shooting on social media, including Tyler Farr, who tweeted, “Didn’t expect to wake up to see this, this morning. Prayers out to everyone affected by this tragic event in Las Vegas.”

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